Local business and consumer news. Openings, closings, deals, sales, what to buy and where to buy it, we round it all up and give you an insider's shopper's special on small business in Halifax. Contact shoptalk@thecoast.ca to send a tip.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Hot winter daze at SENSEA Nordic Spa

Get really, really really relaxed at the South Shore’s one-of-a-kind spa.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 at 1:54 PM

SENSEA Nordic Spa offers European-inspired spa services in a Nova Scotian lakefront setting. - SUBMITTED
  • SENSEA Nordic Spa offers European-inspired spa services in a Nova Scotian lakefront setting.

On a 26-acre parcel of land outside the Nova Scotia coastal village of Chester is a spa unlike any other in the province. Instead of minimalistic white rooms with high ceilings, scented candles and in-ground hot tubs, you'll find ice-cold waterfalls, Turkish hammams and cozy fireplaces.

"Offering a pause, a break in your busy life, that's really our intent," says Christophe Debeaumont, owner of SENSEA Nordic Spa.

Originally from France, Debeaumont and his wife, Laetitia Gomthier, moved to Canada five years ago. Avid spa-goers in Europe, the couple wanted to provide Canadians with a unique experience, drawing inspiration from spa cultures across Europe to create something original.

To that end, explains Debeaumont, the couple have embellished the basic Nordic spa concept with ideas from their travels to spas in Luxembourg, Germany, Finland and across Scandinavia. Key to the experience, he says, is being immersed in nature.

"We wanted to create a new, different concept of spa where everything is embedded inside deep nature," he explains. "It sounds crazy, but we offer for you to be literally in your swimsuit in the cold outside in the wintertime."

The Nordic spa experience has three steps, Debeaumont explains. First, spa-goers warm up in a sauna, hammam (steam room) or hot bath. Second, they cool down as quickly as possible.

"The brutal way to do it is to pour a bucket of water on you," says Debeaumont, though there are gentler options, including an onsite waterfall.

Debeaumont says the shock of the cold releases adrenaline and endorphins in the body, inducing a deeply relaxed state afterwards.

The final step, of course, is relaxation, and Debeaumont recommends doing the hot-cold-relax cycle three times to "sleep like a baby" at night.

To induce even deeper tranquility, SENSEA has a lounge with a fireplace, light reading and classic vinyl records, as well as snacks and wine to purchase.

A typical day at the spa costs $50 for basic access. Add-ons like therapeutic massage, and traditional Russian banya—a treatment that involves being whipped with eucalyptus branches—cost extra.

By this summer, Debeaumont also plans to offer outdoor massages and a chance for people to take the experience even further by sleeping in "dream cocoons" (a sort of treehouse) overnight.

SENSEA opened on January 1, with about 100 guests taking in the experience. Located about 45 minutes from downtown Halifax, Debeaumont says the drive to Chester is a great chance to get into nature.

"We just want to offer you a way to escape the city," he says, "and give a pause on your life."

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Halifax street style: South Street

Scouring the streets for the city’s most fashionable.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 28, 2019 at 4:00 AM

  • Carolina AndradE

Name: William Kim
Spotted: Corner of Tower Road and South Street
Wearing: Coat, Burberry; Sweater, H&M; Hat, Calvin Klein; Belt, Off White; Pants, Calvin Klein and Shoes, Raf Simons

What inspires your wardrobe? Japanese street fashion. I started showing interest in Japanese fashion culture after going to Tokyo and seeing all these different types of styles. From traditional Japanese dresses to futuristic styles, it is impossible not to acknowledge that Japanese people have an incredible sense of style. But, at the end of the day, I don't have a specific style; I like to wear what I want.

What is your favourite brand right now? I'm currently in love with Acne Studios. I love how their clothes look minimal with innovative designs.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your closet right now? My Liful Minimal Garments hoodie. It's an oversized sherpa hoodie that's warm and cozy—perfect clothing for the fall-winter time.

Favourite local shops? Elsie's Used Clothing. I like how Elsie's has a variety of clothes—from formal clothes to street fashion—and it's not overly priced for good quality clothing.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Where I work: Rage Room Halifax

Terry LeBlanc facilitates good clean fun, big ol messes and smashing things (safely) into smithereens.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 1:33 AM

  • Samuel Turpin

Rage Room Halifax
2820 Isleville Street

Terry LeBlanc has become desensitized to the sound of breaking glass. "I love seeing people genuinely happy!" he shouts over the sound of a computer monitor in the next room being obliterated by a golf club. Perhaps it's odd to associate happiness with a place where people vent their rage, but LeBlanc, co-owner of Rage Room Halifax, says people consistently leave with a smile on their face. At Rage Room, the tiresome warnings you've heard throughout childhood—"be careful with that" or "please don't touch that"—are disregarded. Instead, when clients emerge, cheeks flushed and slightly out of breath, LeBlanc simply asks, "So, what was your favourite thing to break?" 

Before Rage Room, LeBlanc co-owned a glass business on Isleville Street. When it closed, he knew he wanted to keep the space and start something new. "The area is growing," he says. "I didn't want to leave." A horror-themed escape room came to mind, but LeBlanc wanted something that would attract a broader audience. He googled "smash a room," discovered the concept of rage rooms and the deal was sealed. "I think I spent all night watching videos of people breaking stuff," LeBlanc says. Compared to his glass business, he says Rage Room has much higher levels of customer satisfaction. "People never smile when they get a bill for a new window," he says. "But the percentage of people who walk out of here disappointed is very low." Along with managing Rage Room, LeBlanc is a chef at Mount Saint Vincent University. Eventually, he would like to add a food element to Rage Room, effectively merging his trade and business together.

LeBlanc and his mother, Donna LeBlanc, opened Rage Room in May 2018. To transform the space, LeBlanc installed cameras, lined the concrete walls with boards and purchased safety suits. He also made sure that each room was supplied with a Bluetooth speaker for clients who wanted to play their own music. LeBlanc buys items from Mission Mart, Auction Hut and Rick's Riches Thrift Store to stock his endless supply of "smashables"—the objects that are destroyed. After clients leave, LeBlanc cleans the room and recycles all electronic waste and glass. Occasionally, people ask to repurpose the debris into art. As a result, LeBlanc has several miniature Zen gardens assembled from scraps of metal and shards of glass on display at the front desk. On top of providing people with a place to purge their energy, Rage Room has unexpectedly become a way for LeBlanc to support local non-profits, keep waste out of landfills, and even inspire the odd local artist. 

  • Samuel Turpin

People seek out Rage Room for all sorts of reasons, and LeBlanc welcomes them all. "We're entertainment first," LeBlanc says. "It's all about having a good time. If you happen to de-stress while you're here, then that's great too." He has seen people bring in stuff their exes left behind. He watched a family convince their 81-year-old grandmother to take a crack at breaking something. Another time, when LeBlanc asked a client how their day was going, the individual simply said, "Well, I'm supposed to be at the altar in five minutes." Rage Room Halifax provides a safe, controlled environment for people who are in need of catharsis, an adrenaline rush or just a good laugh. No matter who you are or where you're at in life, LeBlanc believes everyone needs to cut loose from time to time.

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Friday, November 15, 2019

SHOP THIS: Shad Bay Weaving

Bring the outdoors inside with Allison Pinsent Baker's ethereal, hand-woven wall hangings.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 15, 2019 at 12:46 PM


The next-best-thing to a picture window on a big, blank wall in your bedroom might just be a woven tapestry from Allison Pinsent Baker. A multi-disciplinary artist based out of rugged Shad Bay, her one-of-a-kind works capture the coastlines, colour schemes and visceral vibes behind the landscapes people love to lose themselves in. Selling her mostly custom pieces under Shad Bay Weaving since 2017, Pinsent Baker uses ethical, natural fibres (many of her yarns are custom-spun and hand-dyed by her mom) and up-cycled materials, like driftwood mounts, to transport you a little further into the wild.

Find her work at Argyle Fine Art (1559 Barrington Street) or—if you have a beautiful view you’d like to keep forever—email shadbayweaving@gmail.com for a quote. 
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Every single winner from the 25th annual Best of Halifax Readers' Choice Awards

Click here to celebrate your city

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2019 at 1:28 AM

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Charity Doucette rises and shines

How learning traditional Mi’kmaq beadwork helped an artist see the beauty in her own culture.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Charity Doucette beads for hours. - COREY ISENOR
  • Charity Doucette beads for hours.

Shimmering opals, oceanic blues, cream white pearls; that's Charity. Fresh sweetgrass, shapely moose antler, textured birchbark; that's Mi'kma'ki.

Charity Doucette, of Potlotek First Nation, combines the dazzle of trendy jewellery with the meaningful beauty of Indigenous beadwork to create show-stopping pieces that represent a restored pride in her heritage. "Know your worth—because that was the thing I struggled with," Doucette says, via FaceTime. "But, now I can see my worth."

In February, after years of selling to friends and family, Doucette created @beads_bychar, an Instagram account that showcases and sells her Mi'kmaq beadwork jewellery. In eight short months, the 20-year-old amassed over 1,000 followers. Her designs have been worn by Indigenous and non-Indigenous folk all over Canada and the US. 

What sets her apart from her contemporaries is how she incorporates symbols of Mi'kmaq culture—like hand-harvested and braided sweetgrass, real moose antler and artificial sinew—in a way that reflects her personal expression of beauty.  Though her beads aren't locally made, they're bought from an Indigenous entrepreneur in Eskasoni. Doucette ensures every aspect of her creations are locally sourced and supportive of her community.

"I like to take from the earth because Native people protect the earth," she explains. "I put that touch into my work because that's what I find is important, and that's what our people look towards." 

Doucette's eyes sparkle brighter than her shiniest jewels as she reveals handfuls of braided sweetgrass and thumb-sized gems. It's hard to imagine she was once embarrassed to call Potlotek home.

"I always had such an ugly concept of my culture," she says. "We were always centred out as the 'white kids.' We got bullied because we were 'white' and not as dark as other Natives." She learned to defend her mixed identity on and off reserve—especially at her predominantly white school.

"I never wanted to say I was from the reserve."

In 2008, Doucette's mother, Jeannie Marshall, took her kids to live at a hotel until Potlotek's habitually unsafe water was clean enough to boil and drink again.

"We don't even make our dogs drink our water," Doucette says. 

One day, all Indigenous students from Potlotek were called into the school gym. Doucette remembers the humiliation as she and her peers were rounded up and told they were allowed showers at school if they brought their own soap. 

"It was so embarrassing," Doucette says. She recalls shamefully explaining to classmates the reason for her absence. "They're really grossed out by you because you live somewhere where you can't even drink or do anything with your water."

Water conditions at Potlotek improved, but that didn't stop kids at school from targeting Doucette and her friend. "They were always on her back," she says. "'Oh, is the water making your skin that brown?' they would say. 'Shouldn't Charity be darkening up too?'"

These experiences, Charity says, soiled her Mi'kmaq pride. Then she was introduced to beadwork.

As a child, Doucette found comfort in drawing; a talent her mother recognized—and hoped to preserve—in her late grandfather, who was a chief. When Doucette was 13 years old, the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Summer Games were hosted at Potlotek. For her worried mother, the games meant boys from all over Mi'kma'ki would be eyeing her teenage daughter. Marshall called her close friend, Marcia Johnson, and asked her to teach her daughter how to bead. A hobby supposed to distract Doucette from boys soon became an obsession.

"When I started beading, I saw the beautiful things in my culture, my reserve and traditions, instead of looking at the bad things that happen," she says.

Today, Doucette is more proud of her heritage than ever before. The young entrepreneur is currently studying hairdressing at Elevate Beauty Institute of Cosmetology in New Minas, and dreams of opening her own full-service, Indigenous owned-and-operated salon.

"I want to be able to have a safe place for people to go," she says.

Doucette hopes her beadwork inspires other Indigenous women to find pride in their traditions and pursue them. 

"Traditions that we've always held onto are still beautiful," she says, "even though our living conditions aren't." 

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Fiends finds a home on Agricola

A magical space for intentionality, self care, tarot and shopping.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 2:40 PM

Forest Eden Greenwell says any moment can be special—with the right tools. - CAROLINA ANDRADE
  • Forest Eden Greenwell says any moment can be special—with the right tools.
  • Carolina Andrade

5775 Charles Street, second floor
Opens Thursday, October 31

F orest Eden Greenwell's new shop, Fiends, is a one-stop shop for folks interested in leading an intentional lifestyle. Linking self care to our own unique rituals, whatever those might be, Greenwell wants to elevate the little moments we give ourselves. A poet and a tarot reader, she co-hosts new moon gatherings with The Circle Womxns Society, where attendees can get their cards read, journal and discuss astrology and related topics. With Fiends—which opens on Halloween—Greenwell can put all these pursuits (and more) under one roof and create a community around it.

"We want to create a real space in the community for rituals and how we perceive them," says Greenwell. That includes regular workshops and meetings, thrifted clothing and jewellery, house plants curated by House Full of Plants, essential oils (including a custom blend just for the shop) and "a free library and available resources on spirituality and occultism and good books that teach you about life, as well as yoni eggs, sex toys, crystal wands—pleasure relates to ritual as well."

Greenwell explains small intentional pieces—like brass lighter holders—can help turn something as simple as lighting a candle while you unwind before bed into a special little moment. Even if you don't believe in astrology, tarot, crystals or the like, Fiends will be a place to support local makers and buy special thrifted items.

She also plans to offer $45-a month tarot memberships that include one monthly workshop and reading, plus 10 percent off in the shop. Greenwell hopes regular memberships will help clients "keep [their] spiritual selves accountable." Fiends will also offer tarot readings on a PWYC basis on Wednesdays. 

Fiends aims to be a place for everyone to find a little something special to make the everyday a little more magical. "Small rituals enhance every day life, whether that's wearing power colours, carrying rocks or diffusing essential oils," says Greenwell. "We all make up our own belief systems in our lives and we don't always relate to the same things."

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Halifax street style: Gottingen Street

Scouring the streets for the city's most fashionable.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 6:25 PM

  • Carolina Andrade
Name: Kate Macdonald
Age: 28
Occupation: Education and outreach coordinator, artist, activist
Spotted: Halifax North Memorial Public Library on Gottingen Street
Wearing: Sweater, t-shirt and army pants: H&M; jacket: Forever 21; kicks: Jordans. “I have a Black Lives Matter patch on my jacket that my wildly talented artist girlfriend Kordeena Clayton (She Nubian Liberation) made.”

  • Carolina Andrade

Describe your style:

“My style is mine. I wear pieces and accessories, down to even my tattoos, that make me feel in alignment with myself.”

Where do you draw inspiration from for your wardrobe?
“Largely from folks I want to nod to or show respect for, give gratitude to and remember. I take fashion inspiration from Black and queer culture, from what’s happening in music, art and politics, mood and energy—simply from life. You are your own creation. Everything that I do is in alignment with thanking the folks who have sacrificed in order for me to be here today.”

Favourite local clothing brands?
“Hats off to tREv Clothing, Family Over Fame, Bad Publicity.”
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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

La Femme Fatale brings plus-sized bodies more than monotone basics

Warna Downey brings a new boutique to Bedford

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 5:37 PM

“It’s the pits not being able to find something that fits,” says Warna Downey. - DANIEL DOMINIC
  • “It’s the pits not being able to find something that fits,” says Warna Downey.
  • Daniel Dominic

La Femme Fatale
Sunnyside Mall, 1595 Bedford Highway

Like many folks, Warna Downey found shopping as a plus-sized woman supremely frustrating, if not downright impossible. Downey, who comes from a STEM background, recalls going into a Pennington’s in Fredericton (“we weren’t cool enough back then for an Addition Elle,” she says) and thinking: “These clothes are ugly.” Fortunate enough to have a bit of a sewing background, Downey would go to a fabric store, buy some cool fabric and sew her own surplice neckline tops. “No one should have to do that,” she says.

So, at a crossroads between continuing in academia after getting her Masters in geology and PhD in earth sciences or trying something completely new, she chose to open La Femme Fatale, a store catering to plus-sized women, which opened October 1 in Bedford’s Sunnyside Mall. “There’s a huge gap in the market, what’s out there is mostly controlled by Reitmans. They do a good job, they’ve been doing it for years for us,” she says. “You could go to Walmart or Giant Tiger but you know those are disposable. After a couple of washes, the t-shirts look a little sad. Something needs to change. It’s the pits not being able to find something that fits.”

La Femme Fatale’s style profile is trendy, modern mixed with boho pieces. “A little camo, a little animal print,” says Downey. “It’s fun, playful. So many great fall colours right now—mustard, forest green, cabernet. Plus-sized women are used to going into a store and picking from black, black, black and grey. I was conscious of that. We still have a fair amount because it’s a great basic but we wanted to branch out.”

“People’s reaction is that it’s beautiful and they get excited. One girl said ‘I didn’t know clothes came in plus-size that were this pretty.’” says Downey. “That right there made it worth all the hard work.”
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Visit this authentic and thriving neighbourhood, with great food and offerings from boutiques and beer to pinball and Pilates.

Posted on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 1:54 PM


Sustainability is a State of Mind
We've seen the slow food movement take off, we've removed plastic from our kids' lunches, and we don't want chemicals in our beauty products–but have we stopped to think about how our clothing is made? Shop in alignment with your values at Sattva Boutique–where sustainability is stitched into the fabric of their atmosphere.

Sattva brings four pillars to how they source their clothing: sustainability for the planet, ethical fair trade production, local accessibility and social interest. This local shopping alternative shows the little steps that we can take to incorporate more mindfulness into our wardrobes.

Their professional and skilful stylists educate shoppers in an approachable way, while helping to achieve that staple look and feel connected to our pieces again. Sattva's modern classics transcend seasons, are timeless, ageless and work with us when our bodies and lives change. Sattva's quality pieces are with us for the long haul.
Sattva Boutique, 2453 Agricola Street

Accessible Nutrition 
The fresh food at Springhouse continues to inspire us to eat healthy more often, thanks to the largest plant-based menu in Halifax. The restaurant on Gottingen is bright, light and filled with plants. Come in to grab a smoothie or wrap for take-out, or stay and enjoy a three-course meal.

We love the loaded mashed potato appetizer, noodle bowl and maple almond cheesecake for dessert. Pick up some groceries for your own home cooking like cashew parmesan and coconut bacon, and join for one of their nutrition and cooking classes to learn some new skills.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy Springhouse on the daily without breaking the bank or compromising that "treat yourself" feel. You can even order delivery on Uber Eats.

With Springhouse's incredible taste, affordable meals and friendly staff, it's safe to say that we know what'll be on your menu for today...and tomorrow.
Springhouse Inc., 2290 Gottingen Street

When was the last time you had a shopping experience that was geared to enhancing your authentic personality and beauty? Boutique Zekara's goal is to create a look and feel that truly expresses who you are.

After 20 years in the fashion industry, owning this boutique and the Saint John's location was a dream of Donna's–she loves meeting clients through the business and helping them to be unforgettable. Her constant stream of brands and products brings a new edge to Halifax's fashion scene. She and her terrific team even offer a make-up and skincare studio featuring the Lifeance natural skincare line as well as Merle Norman Cosmetics.

For the Zekara team, it's all about building relationships with their clients and being able to provide them with key fashionable items to build or complete their wardrobes.

The treasure hunt at Boutique Zekara never ends–every time you come in, you're sure to find a new game-changing piece.
Boutique Zekara, 2698 Agricola Street

Printing Ideas
Fresh Prints Custom Apparel has been our go-to screen printing shop for the last decade, where you can bring your group or businesses closer together with the art of t-shirt design.

No design is too outrageous. Fresh Prints will take the idea from your brain and plug it onto a shirt in no time. You can get a shirt made for any major occasion, like coordinating your sports team with the right logo, or setting up local events with matching festival tees. If you're feeling the spontaneous need for a quality tee, their retail boutique houses locally designed apparel such as North Beast and Scotian Original, so you can just grab and go.

Fresh Prints isn't just involved with their business–they sponsor and support other local businesses events such as Nocturne, Christmas Daddies, and Halifax Pop Explosion. Leading with community at their forefront, Fresh Prints brings a little more heart to Halifax.
Fresh Prints Custom Apparel, 2411 Agricola Street

Home-cooked Deli
The smell, the taste, the family feel—with one bite, you'll be transported back to your mother's kitchen. Hali Deli is a place where food meets nostalgia, and where you'll feel right at home.

With comfort and ease at the forefront of the deli, the hardest decision you'll have to make is between all of their delectable dishes. Inspired by the simplicity of food from Eastern Europe, Lithuania, Russia and Hungary, the food is anything but plain. The tangy flavours mixed with sweet in their cabbage rolls, the warm matzo ball soup or signature smoked meat eggs Benny are enough to get you hooked.

Have a seat, and enjoy meals made from scratch. It's like eating at home (only the food is better!). Coming into the deli is being a part of north end Halifax history, and if it's not part of your routine yet, it will be now.   
Hali Deli, 2389 Agricola Street

A Twist on Comfort
Are you a creature of habit? Why not go out on a limb and let Hopyard Beer Bar shake up your life? Don't worry, they're not asking you to risk too much–they'll just offer you an extensive regional beer list that rotates daily. Since they've built foundations with breweries in all four Maritime provinces, you'll get some first tastes of the freshest brews.

From a culinary standpoint, Hopyard will tickle your taste buds with their playful spin on Southern BBQ, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Tokyo Street Food and 90 other evolving menu options. Take your time and let that food baby settle while you flip through their extensive collection of vinyl. With the help of Taz Records, Hopyard is always bringing new artists to your ears.

With the comfort of familiarity and a dash of rotation, you don't have to worry about choosing a new location for you and your friends; Hopyard does the work for you.
Hopyard Beer Bar, 2103 Gottingen Street

Local Love
The cool weather is here and that means reconnecting with our favourite bar. We can't help but gravitate towards The Local for trivia on Mondays, jazz nights on Wednesdays, Garrison Breweries Live Thursdays or the Sunday family-friendly matinee. Nothing says autumn like grabbing a pint of a local brew with an afternoon of pool, ping pong, shuffleboard or a hang in the warm flower-filled atrium.

Let the relaxing atmosphere invite you over for their signature pizza and daytime fun with friends, and then come back downstairs to The Seahorse Tavern to let loose and unwind from your long week. Their stage is home to our classic Halifax bands and DJs, and you know they'll throw a new artist into the mix. We can always count on them to have the next big lineup we were looking for.

Get your dance on during any regular night or stop by for one of their theme nights. Who could say no to Retro Night's '80s-style neon colours and big, messy hair? The best memories are made right at The Seahorse.
The Local / The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street

Working With Your Body 
Our schedules are busy, and our bodies are stressed; so why have our workouts been stressing us out even more? The Pilates Barre Halifax gets your body the workout it needs, while moving towards lowering your stress levels.

Meet the "self-care" of workouts that will get you in shape without feeling depleted afterwards. You'll feel like you're putting in the work, but with an added softness.

Their bright, open and airy vibe, combined with the soft pink palette, will instantly relax you and remind you why you came to work out in the first place: to find peace and strength.

The incredible instructors are certified and experienced and include chiropractors, massage therapists, as well as educators in the Pilates world. You'll know you're in good hands with leaders who are invested in your wellbeing, who make sure you get an individualized experience in an intimate 12-person group setting. The Pilates Barre is the place for people who want to turn their go-go-go into flow-flow-flow.
The Pilates Barre Halifax, 5649 Hennessey Street

Game on
What does Propeller Brewing Company mean to you? Your first thought might go to that unmistakable taste that you can only get from their handcrafted beverages. Without a doubt, anyone who has visited Propeller's Tasting Room knows that it stretches beyond a best-selling microbrew–it's all about that ambiance.  

Propeller is where you can sit and unwind with friends or on your own. There's no judgement if you just want to indulge in a night of gaming action in their new basement arcade, open Thursday-Sunday from 4pm until close. Propeller loves providing that comfortable space for all, which is why Wednesday nights are reserved for ladies/non-cis men to get their pinball on.

With rotating games like Jurassic Park pinball, Big Buck Hunter Safari edition or Narc, you won't want to leave. And with Propeller's Friday and Saturday hours extended to midnight for pints and take-home brew options, you'll never have to!
Propeller Brewing Company, 2015 Gottingen Street

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Nature Folk Wellness Studio is looking for connection

Dartmouth’s brand new spa wants to make self-care seem achievable.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 11:30 AM

Anna Tremblay and Ashley Cluett have a community-minded approach to wellness. - IAN SELIG
  • Anna Tremblay and Ashley Cluett have a community-minded approach to wellness.

What started out as a seemingly unattainable dream and inside joke between friends has become a reality for Anna Tremblay and Ashley Cluett, creators of Nature Folk Wellness Studio (88 Portland Street).

After meeting as servers at a restaurant, the two bonded over a shared passion for wellness, design and an interest in entrepreneurship. It was only after the complementary nature of their skill-sets—Cluett has a background in nutrition, marketing and holistic modality, while Tremblay has experience in graphic design—that their ideas blossomed into Nature Folk.

"We wanted a space where people can come, relax and meet other people who might be experiencing the same or similar struggles," says Cluett, "Nature Folk is designed so that when people walk in, they feel like they're home. We want self care to seem achievable, not intimidating, and everything here is designed to be easily customizable so that any individual can get the wellness experience that they need."

Nature Folk seeks to invoke a sense of community in its space, welcoming and encouraging practitioners and individuals alike on their path to well-being.

"With wellness, there isn't just one thing that is perfect for everybody. It is very dependent on that person, their mindset, what their body needs, and what feels right for them," says Tremblay, "We want Nature Folk to be a hub for a community who is passionate about wellness and curious about finding what care works for them".

Nordic-inspired, the studio was created as a fluid, functional space where people are free to come in, participate in workshops, get a massage or hang out. Nature Folk also offers a range of spa services, from the two-person infrared sauna to an in-house doula, a massage therapist and even Thursday Pilates classes. On top of that, it carries skincare products that are minimalistic, multi-purpose, sustainably and ethically sourced, and are run—and owned—by women.

"Nature Folk is our name because we are a group of like-minded people that engage with, care about and find peace in nature," says Cluett, "It is through this that we want people to have a deeper connection with themselves, a deeper connection with their environment, and a deeper connection with their community".

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Move East moves in on Quinpool

Hannah Kovacs’ coming-soon fitness studio welcomes folks of all fitness levels to get together and sweat.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 4:21 PM

Hannah Kovacs has a Masters degree in policy but her real passion lies in fitness. - SUBMITTED
  • Hannah Kovacs has a Masters degree in policy but her real passion lies in fitness.

Hannah Kovacs' career path might have been, as she puts it, "very non-linear" but eventually it led her back home. The born-and-raised Haligonian, who spent the last number of years living in Toronto, fell for fitness after dabbling in a few other worlds—earning a Masters in policy, working for a tech start-up and exploring the world of marketing and branding. But sitting at a desk didn't really do it for her.

"I really missed playing soccer at a competitive level," says Kovacs of the team mindset that drove her to take the workouts she'd lead for her friends to the next level. She became a certified fitness instructor and started building her own brand: HIIT with Hannah.

"It started for just me and my friends but word spread and my classes were quite busy," she says. "I would wake up every day looking to bring people together to sweat it out, and take that hour of their day to connect with themselves and other people." After putting in the work on the ground level, working with and learning from other studios, Kovacs decided to come back to Halifax and open her own, Move East (6130 Quinpool Road, in The Keep).

Aiming debut in mid-October, she'll offer high intensity interval training, fast- and slow-paced yoga, technique focused strength training and military-style fitness classes, for starters. Move East will also have a heated infrared room for hot classes and mobility work. There'll be major focus on team, community and offering something for folks of all fitness levels.

"I have always been the friend that brings people together, and I'm so lucky I get to do that through owning a fitness studio," says Kovacs. "I love that people from all walks of life and backgrounds can connect with each other in one space."

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

House of Eights levels up

Abady Alzahrani’s dance studio welcomes dancers of all levels to “shut everything out and have fun” with its new location.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 4:53 PM

Late-blooming dancer Abady Alzahrani wants to see your inner Beyoncé. - LENNY MULLINS
  • Late-blooming dancer Abady Alzahrani wants to see your inner Beyoncé.

House of Eights
1717 Barrington Street, 2nd Floor

D ance like everyone's watching, but like everyone watching isn't a judgemental asshole waiting for you to slip and fall. That's more or less the ethos at Halifax dance studio House of Eights, which encourages people of all levels of dance prowess to live their best lives.

Having launched in January, the drop-in style studio recently moved into a 2,000 square foot space downtown to accommodate growing demand from Haligonians wanting to have a ton of fun and learn a ton of new moves with their wide array of classes. If you're not convinced that merely having an interest in dance is enough, look no further than House of Eights founder, Abady Alzahrani. Having grown up in Saudi Arabia, where dancing "was not allowed," Alzahrani moved to Halifax in 2008 for school and quickly became enamoured with extra-curricular dance classes at his university.

"I got into dance a little late, technically," says Alzahrani, "because most people start dancing when they're kids, but I started when I was about 19 or 20." 

Outside of university dance practices, Alzahrani was disheartened by Halifax's lack of dance spaces available to novice dance enthusiasts like himself. He began travelling to cities like Toronto and Los Angeles for intensive training with renowned dance instructors. 

"I felt I needed to make up for lost time as a late-blooming dancer," says Alzahrani, who developed such a knack for the craft, he was soon teaching classes at his university as well as local schools.

Fast-forward to quitting his day job in marketing and advertising. Now, Alzahrani is fully committed to the craft and wants to inspire others like him with House of Eights. 

"The name comes from the whole house name in the vogue world," says Alzahrani. "In vogue, when you join a house it's like your chosen family and your safe community where you can be yourself—so I wanted to use that term about how we want to be that judgment-free space for you." 

And he's not lying. The vibrant, Instagrammable studio is home to over 10 in-house instructors who teach a vast and varied curriculum. K-pop? They got you. Heels? They got you. Getting high and doing improvisational dance? They got you.  

"I wanted to make sure that there is a space for both super-advanced, experienced dancers who want to keep up their training," says Alzahrani, "but also for absolute beginners who've never danced before and want to try something new."

One of the main draws of the studio are the acclaimed guest instructors it hosts every month or two, some of which have choreographed for big names like Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.

"Just because you live in Halifax doesn't mean you shouldn't have access to someone who is a professional commercial dance instructor who's constantly in shows and music videos and stuff like that," says Alzahrani. 

Bringing a breath of fresh air into Halifax's dance scene, House of Eights plans to offer over 30 classes per week beginning in September and hopes to expand further on its class offerings. However, one thing remains the same.

"What I want people to get out of the classes is that this is your release and your place to be yourself, shut everything out and have fun," says Alzahrani. "It's super amazing getting to see people who are super shy, and then you see them in class living their best life—it's such a confidence builder. There's nothing like seeing someone perform like they're Beyoncé."

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Frankie’s Espresso Bar is on fire

How an old fire truck became Halifax’s roving percent plant based cafe.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 1:46 PM

Jill Mulveney and the fire truck she (and Adam Otmar) converted into their big-little coffee shop - SUBMITTED
  • Jill Mulveney and the fire truck she (and Adam Otmar) converted into their big-little coffee shop

It was about a year ago that Adam Otmar and Jill Mulveney had the idea to run a little coffee shop out of the back of a bus. The two veteran baristas envisioned a sustainable mobile cafe in a small school bus, but struggled to find something tall enough to accommodate their north of 5'10" heights. With a gut feeling, the couple bid on a decades-old, adorably squat fire truck in an online auction—without seeing it in person—and won. Six months later, after bringing it from Kingston, Ontario to Otmar's hometown of Hubley, the bright red, boxy rig is now Frankie's Espresso Bar.

"We've both been really interested in cafe culture and cafes that create ambience—it's more about that than coffee in general. That feeling you get when you're in a nice warm, welcoming cafe," says Otmar. "That's the drive behind what we're doing, creating that atmosphere and ambience but in a more mobile setting."

Together the pair, inspired by many of the inefficiently laid-out cafes they'd worked in, designed and renovated the truck themselves, making the very most of the compact space. The truck itself was in good shape, save for broken blinkers and a busted alternator, making the beautification process fairly easy.


"We wanted it white, bright and open," says Otmar. "We serve out of the back door so you can see the whole truck, making it seem as big as possible."

Apart from the whole firetruck thing, Frankie's also stands out because of its 100 percent plant-based menu. Every single drink is made sans-dairy products, and Otmar and Mulveney bake all of the vegan and gluten-free cookies, doughnuts and macaroons themselves.

"We try to eat as locally and consciously as we can, but another thing we learned from working in coffee shops is the amount of dairy milk they go through in a day," says Otmar. "We were off put by it, it could be 20 to 30 litres of milk a day for a small cafe. We decided if we were to open something, we'd want to be different."

For now, Frankie's is parked at the Tantallon Farmers' Market (16 Sonnys Road, Upper Tantallon) on Tuesdays from 2-6pm, and its owners are working hard to secure more parking spots in the city. Keep tabs on its whereabouts, special event appearances and general cuteness via @frankiethefiretruck.


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Wednesday, July 24, 2019


Style meets substance on Spring Garden Road and its surrounding blocks. The area’s awesome local businesses, like the ones featured here, make every visit rewarding.

Posted on Wed, Jul 24, 2019 at 2:14 PM


The Italian Experience

Work up an appetite on your summer stroll through the Public Gardens and wander over to the other side...of the Atlantic. Your nose isn't fooling you—that's a little slice of Italy tempting you with dinner over at Mappatura Bistro.

Take a seat on the new patio, close your eyes and imagine the cobblestone beneath your chair. We recommend starting off with one of Mappatura's daily featured spritzes, which is similar to an Aperol spritz but with a variety of amaros. You'll be swept away with that first sip of bitter-sweet bubbly tickling your tongue.

Their friendly staff know a thing or two about choreographing a genuine Italian experience. Come back when you can stretch the meal to last a lively Italian-styled afternoon (because who wouldn't want to take a two-hour lunch?). When your boss asks, blame it on the delicious calamari overload—guaranteed they'll be joining you for some famous carbonara, house-made pastas and oysters the next time around.
Mappatura Bistro, 5883 Spring Garden Road

Shopping With Heart

You'll go into Sweet Pea Boutique in search of that perfect dress, but you'll leave with a little more than material goodies. Sweet Pea transcends the traditional shopping experience; owner Johanna Galipeau initiates these intimate moments with clients that make them feel special from the minute they walk in.

The reasonable prices are just a bonus to Sweet Pea's joyful smiles and personable service. Galipeau's boutique leads us through the fashion industry with heart—what really makes the store stand out is that it carries a small quantity of each style.

Whether you're after that perfect jumpsuit or beachy dress to throw over after a day of fun in the sun, no two outfits are alike. Say goodbye to seeing someone wearing that same outfit to a party—these looks are curated especially for you, so that you can express your unique flare through fashion.

Your style will scream "high-end big city boutique," but your wallet will be hometown happy.
Sweet Pea Boutique, 1542 Queen Street

Atlantic Community

If you've ever wondered where your neighbours are spending their mornings, we guarantee they've grabbed their coffee and are down at Atlantic News to find their favourite read. Atlantic News has been a staple in the community for 45 years, bringing locals their exclusive morning papers like The Globe and Mail or the Sunday New York Times.

The employees love starting their days through meaningful conversations with new and long-term customers about politics and literature. All worldviews are welcome at Atlantic News, and did we mention they're dog-friendly too?

Even though it'll always be a magazine store, Atlantic News likes to stay ahead of the curve and follow the readers' interests. Its stock is specially curated to carry one-of-a-kind products like the famous art cards and newly expanded eccentric book selection: You can find the beautiful poetry of Donald Trump or the life coach advice of Putin. Now that's something you don't hear every day.
Atlantic News, 5560 Morris Street

Hop Into Adventure

Watch all of your worries hop away when you eat and drink like a true local at The Fickle Frog Pub. Grab one of its 26 beer options and take a sip of a Halifax staple. With the Frog's daily pint specials, you can come back and try a new brew every day.

The Fickle Frog makes it worth your while to get out of your comfort zone. You can trust that it's always a good surprise when you dive into their Burger of the Week combinations—they'll have you jumping out of your seat.

The Fickle Frog doesn't just live for the weekends, it hosts plenty of activities for you weekday adventure-seekers. Sing your heart out at Tuesday Karaoke, laugh until you cry with The Pickled Frog Comedy Show on Mondays or stop in for a live local band on most nights.

Don't just take our word for it: You'll have to hop down to the pub and experience the fun at the Frog for yourself.
The Fickle Frog, 5675 Spring Garden Road


Swap your traditional workout for Aerial Silks and transform your fitness experience at inesS. It's not just about landing the trick—it's about having fun and leaving the space feeling confident in your body.

Let your kids in on the fun and sign them up for inesS' Circus Camp. They'll create wonderful memories, make new friends and gain circus skills. They'll be jumping for joy, and you'll do a flip or two when you see how much fun they're having!

Classes and personal training are accessible for all bodies and fitness levels, including barre, pilates reformer, aerial yoga and more. Whether you're brave enough to fly 20 feet in the sky, or if you'd rather keep your feet planted, there's a place for you at inesS. 

Catch inesS' talented staff in flying action in Entangled at the Fringe Festival this August. You'll take one look at the fun they're having and be inspired to join the aerial community.
1535 Dresden Row, Suite 203

Lunch is Served

Forgot your lunch? In a rush? Let Pete's Frootique & Fine Foods handle it. Pete's ready-made options, and custom-made salads and sandwiches, are take-out easy, mixed with the wholesome comfort of a homecooked meal. Get out of your chair, stretch your legs and fire up the rest of your day with something nutritious and delicious.

Pete's Frootique accommodates dietary lifestyles from vegan to gluten-free. Its Gluten Free Eatery proves that "gluten-free" doesn't have to be "flavour-free." The gf kitchen cooks up tasty and unique options that are safe from any cross-contamination.

This Spring Garden market is perfect for those students living downtown. With Pete's Frootique's 10 percent off deal for students on Saturdays, you can afford to throw in a few extra avocadoes and brain-fuelling snacks for later.
Pete's Frootique & Fine Foods 1515 Dresden Row

Inhaling Education, Exhaling Misconceptions

There are many misunderstandings in the cannabis world. People are craving knowledge, clarity and a comfortable place to ask their questions, from "What's the difference between CBD and THC?" to "What do all the small percentages on the packages mean?"

Breathing Green Solutions, Nova Scotia's first licensed cannabis producers and growers of SKOSHA brand of recreational cannabis, have opened an education centre where clients can come in with their list of questions, and leave feeling empowered about their cannabis choices.

The SKOSHA centre will serve as a dynamic space that combines education with a curated selection of retail cannabis accessories provided by the east coast chain Mary Janes. Guests who are 19-plus can explore the learning space while enjoying a cup of locally roasted Anchored Coffee.

The education centre is the first of its kind in the Atlantic provinces and features a wealth of cannabis education including infographics, books and magazines. Its friendly and knowledgeable staff provide customers with a comfortable cannabis learning experience.
The SKOSHA Education Centre, 5553 Clyde Street

The Place to Be

Spring Garden Road is home to 280 metres of fun—and that's just the main drag. There are over 150 shops for tourists to discover for the first time and for locals to become reacquainted with. When was the last time you went exploring down Spring Garden?

Every window along the way is filled with decadent treats that'll make you stop in your tracks. Whether your foodie palette is tempted by worldly tastes, or you've been itching for a new clothing piece to add to the mix, the area delivers with its international restaurants and unique clothing and gift shops.

Spring Garden isn't just a host for good eats and shops—the area is filled with new experiences all year round.

Between the Children's Festival in August, Bark in the Park in September and the signature Shopping Under the Stars event in November and December, Spring Garden is, and always has been, the place to be.
Spring Garden Area Business Association, 5670 Spring Garden Road, Suite 609

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